The Minister for the Armed Forces for France, and his counterparts from Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia and Hungary, on Monday 19 June 2023 signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the joint acquisition of the Mistral 3 ground-based air defence system. Led by the French Ministry for the Armed Forces with support from MBDA, the intent is to implement a joint acquisition of Mistral 3 by the French procurement agency Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) on behalf of all the partner countries. Such an initiative is a concrete illustration of the European Council’s willingness, in the current geostrategic context at the borders of Europe, to reinforce through cooperation the defence capabilities of the European Union (EU) and its member states.
A joint acquisition could benefit from the EU support and allow scale economies to be made so as to incentivise Member States to procure defence products jointly while reinforcing the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) competitiveness. Mistral 3, currently in service with the French armed forces, is an air defence missile equipped with an infrared imaging seeker and advanced image processing capabilities. It can engage low thermal signature targets such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), turbojet-powered missiles and fast attack craft at long range. It also offers excellent resistance to countermeasures.
The Missile Transportable Anti-aérien Léger (Transportable lightweight anti-air missile), commonly called Mistral, is a French infrared homing short range air defense system manufactured by MBDA France (formerly by Matra Defence and then Matra BAe Dynamics). It was initially deployed in 1988 for the first version (S1), 1997 for the second version (M2), and 2019 for the third version (M3). Mistral is a short-range air defence (SHORAD) missile system that can be used from vehicles, surface ships, and helicopters, as well as in a portable configuration. When used in the MANPADS role the “Mistral” missile is transported in a transport and launch container (MPC) together with “friend or foe” interrogator, power source and tripod with its sighting devices.
MBDA is a European multinational developer and manufacturer of missiles. It was created in December 2001 after the merger of the main French, British and Italian missile systems companies; Matra, BAe Dynamics and Alenia. These were previously the missile subsidiaries of Aérospatiale-Matra (merged into EADS, now called Airbus), BAE Systems and Finmeccanica (now Leonardo). The company’s headquarters are located in Le Plessis-Robinson, France. Despite being a European joint venture, MBDA has maintained national divisions since its creation: MBDA France, MBDA UK and MBDA Italy. They were formed by simply grouping in their respective countries the assets and activities of the various French, British and Italian businesses that had merged to create MBDA. Created in the spirit of international partnership, MBDA and its more than 13,000 employees work together to support the national sovereignty of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and other allied countries worldwide.